NY Senator Proposes Safety Bill for Heavy Autonomous Vehicles

The bill would require all autonomous vehicles over 10,000 pounds have a licensed driver at the wheel.

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The proposed law has garnered support from various stakeholders, including labor unions and lawmakers from both political parties. Image via Shutterstock.

New York State Sen. Pete Harckham, D-40, introduced a new bill, S.7758, seeking to mandate the presence of trained human operators in autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds on New York roads.

"The Teamsters applaud Sen. Harckham for introducing legislation that will keep New York roads safe," said Louis A. Picani, president of Teamsters Local 456.

There has been growing concern over recent incidents where autonomous vehicles caused accidents and traffic disruptions, including when a woman in San Francisco was killed after being struck and dragged by a Cruise robotaxi.

S.7758 aims not only to enhance road safety but also to protect the livelihoods of those in the trucking industry. New York's trucking sector supports approximately 270,000 jobs, including about 58,300 heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

"This bill would ensure that good jobs stay in New York, with the people that keep our state up and running," said Tom Gesualdi, president of Teamsters Local 282 and Teamsters Joint Council 16.

Harckham emphasized the dual purpose of the bill: "The integral role of the trucking industry in our lives means we have to be proactive and vigilant about public safety and job security when it comes to technological innovations like autonomous operating vehicles."

His legislation would require all autonomous vehicles over 10,000 pounds have a licensed driver at the wheel, striking a balance between embracing technological advancements and maintaining public safety and employment stability.

The proposed law has garnered support from various stakeholders, including labor unions and lawmakers from both political parties, who recognize the importance of both safety and job security in the era of rapidly advancing AV technology.

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